Female Cabin Crew Radiation Exposure and Cancer Development: A Cross-Study Inquiry

Sarah McCooey, David Ison


While a number of studies have investigated the exposure of female aviation cabin crew members to cosmic radiation during their lifetime, each is limited in scope and geographic location. To better determine the overall impact of radiation on cabin crew staff, this study analyzed the results of multiple previous studies. The purpose of this research was to determine the role of low-dose radiation exposure in female crewmember cancer development by statistically analyzing the test results of five independent quantitative studies regarding cancer development among crewmembers. While some studies had revealed statistically significant evidence that cosmic radiation exposure did lead to cancer, other studies found that flight crew rates of cancer were within the same range as the general population. The current study was analyzed both invasive breast and total cancer cases. A Chi-Square goodness-of-fit test was utilized to analyze the five study data sets and thereby provided a comparison of observed invasive breast and other types of cancer in female flight crew with the expected rates for invasive breast cancer in the general population. For breast cancer, the results indicated that these crewmembers had a higher incidence of this type of cancer about the relevant populations from which they came, χ2 (4, n = 175) = 19.79, p < .001. The findings for all types of cancer types was higher for crewmembers, but such differences were not statistically significant, χ2 (4, n = 175) = 5.25, p = .237. Standard Incidence Ratios (SIR) were also compared reviewed indicating M = 1.394 (SD = .287) for breast cancer and M = 1.066 (SD = .168) for all cancer types.


cancer; aviation; airline; crew; exposure; radiation

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